Vigilante Justice

In thumbing through the NY Daily News yesterday, I ran into this story that some would file under vigilante justice.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/okla-teen-mom-shoots-kills-burglar-year-eve-protect-3-month-old-son-article-1.1000686

Now my heart goes out to this mom. Being in the midst of the tragedy of losing a husband to cancer during the holidays and facing the trauma of a home invasion is just awfully tough. She did what had to do to protect herself and her child from what was probably at minimum a sexual assault scenario. Still, there are some who question the mom’s length of time on the phone with law enforcement during the ordeal.

I think she followed protocol, if there ever was such one in a case like this. She probably was so scared of the fact that someone’s life was going to change forever after this encounter – where it was hers, her child’s or the crooks involved. If it were up to her, she would rather not have to face the situation, but kudos for her in defending herself, her child and her home here indeed. Killing someone is a rough thing, and even in self-defense she may still have residual trauma from this encounter. But she was well within her right to defend herself, and that was the bottom line here.

Of course, with the Daily News the comments is where the real action is, and this comment is no exception: BMF 1122…”she was minding her business then she needed to mind their business and they lost”. Still, in reading this story, I was reminded me of some of those grey areas where vigilante justice has been applied, and why it is still so controversial. Some places have a flair for the vigilante justice and where I’m from is no exception.

One common story a dear friend of mine told was that her friend walked in on a burglar in his home. He was a licensed firearm holder and was irate as he saw this man dig through his living room in the darkness, looking for valuables. So as the thief was able to make his escape, the homeowner cocked the hammer of his guns and said calmly “so how yuh waan dead?” My friend said the homeowner turned the light on and the perp was rooted stiff as he stared down the barrel of the gun. The perp was so scared that even after the police came they had to lift him out of the house because he couldn’t move from still being in shock.

Stories like these I grew up on and had laughs at the prep’s expense. But as seen in the news article above, more often than not these situations end with a violent outcome either for the perp or the citizen.

So is there a time when “vigilante justice” works? Well, who knows. Some folks are a bit more likely to go that route if on a community or personal level the perception exists that law enforcement are ineffective and or untrustworthy. I cannot tell you the number of stories where cops walk into certain neighborhoods with reprisal killings based on the fact that someone decided to take the law into their own hands.

Still, it is stories like what this teen mom faced are why the NRA here fights so hard for the right to bear arms. It was just another case where the perp had to answer for his actions at the end of a shotgun of someone he was probably likely to hurt to get what he wanted. Sometimes justice is served in more immediate ways outside the court of law. But it’d rather live in a society where this situation is the exception and not the rule, as there would be no justice in that at all.

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